Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads June 19th, 2022
“If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it! “—Jonathan Winters
This is super interesting. I've long been fascinated by Uzbekistan and can't wait to visit later this year.
2. I love Monk Mode (every once in a while). Kudos to my friend Jarie Bolander
3. Another great episode of Not Investing Advice. Ad biz implosion & Snap stock destruction.
4. This is a grim listen but deglobalization is here. How to prepare for the new world.
5. This looks like a great documentary. "Expedition Happiness."
6. Sounds familiar right? Happening in the USA now.
"Rampant greed and power-mongering were commonplace, tearing great rends throughout the economic and moral fibre of society. And corruption was so rife, that it had almost become expected of the political ruling class of society as a tool of governance.
The common people of Athens didn’t fare well during this time. The population was kept in line mostly through fear, with regular executions being the favoured tool of guaranteeing compliance—a punishment that was sometimes dished out for offences as trifling as cabbage theft.
Throughout history, whenever a society was experiencing such a rampant level of rot, it often led to an economic chasm between the rich and the poor. And for Athens, this fact definitely held true."
"If inflation continues to rise—which I and many others expect it to do in the near future—it could be worth your time to consider other vessels in which to store and grow your wealth. The most obvious beneficiaries so far have been real estate, as well as food and energy commodities like oil, natural gas, wheat, and coffee."
7. Good overview of what’s happening in the east of Ukraine. Cautiously optimistic that Russia is losing steam.
8. Commodities super cycle is here. Metals and Mining.
9. "All of this has led some crypto investors to wonder if the bottom is really in; with so much "fluff" in the air, maybe there is more left to fall to Earth. In any case, it's clear that nobody has learned anything."
10. "Simply way to zoom out is to just ask where the world is heading. It’s up to *you* to decide these things. That said, some easy ones we don’t see coming back any time soon include:
1) massive commutes to cities - over the next 5-10 years the companies that offer remote solutions will take the talents,
2) don’t see a world with less automation,
3) don’t see a world where people speak to robots instead of physical sales people and nurses/doctors,
4) don’t see a world where manufacturing *isn’t* dominated by tech/robots etc and
5) see a world where valuable individuals gain more and more value as low-mid skilled work can be automated away.
These are just broad strokes. We separate them based on how humans operate. Unlikely a human wants to have a robot caring after him in a hospital. On the flip side. Really doubt humans care if their coca-cola was fork lifted by a person or a robot (no human contact = easier to automate)."
11. This is pretty good stuff. Peer group is important.
12. This is a good discussion. I'm on Brent's side. We underestimate USA's strength as messed up as the country is.
13. Congrats Jessica Peltz-Zatulove! Awesome new VC fund.
14. Go JohnnyFD, worth watching. Minimalist living.
15. This is a pretty interesting new fund.
“I didn’t want this to be a fund that was too big, or greater than 20 million, because I can participate in many rounds. I can also invest in the very, very early stages, so I’m not trying to compete necessarily for a certain percentage of ownership. I can write relatively small checks and still be a meaningful part of the startup journey very early on,” Iyer said."
16. "There is going to be a big bull market in real stuff!"
17. "Life in an armed compound, surrounded by your starving and desperate neighbors banging on the gates, is no happy retirement — not for anyone with a smidgen of empathy, anyway. The only worse fate is being on other side of the wall, clawing at the fence.
Retirement is a social problem, not an individual one. It is one of those parts of our world where our destines are inextricably bound together, like, say, public health. And as with public health, the attempt at converting a social, collective issue into an individual, market-based one has been an abject failure."
18. "Without a peace deal between Ukraine and Russia, a major U.S. and Western military objective should be to provide sufficient military assistance to help Ukraine retake territory in the east and south. If the United States and the West want to shift the balance of power in Ukraine’s favor, they will need to provide Ukraine with more weapons and platforms that allow the Ukrainian military to conduct offensive operations and more effective counterattacks against dug-in Russian forces over a sustained period.
Most of these systems will require additional training and a steady supply of munitions and spare parts, which should be feasible with a protracted war. More advanced weapons and platforms will be critical to overrun entrenched Russian forces. In addition, Ukraine needs to conduct a sustained guerilla campaign behind Russian lines that involves ambushes, raids, sabotage, and subversion against Russian forces and political leaders hand-picked by Moscow to replace local Ukrainian officials."
19. "Fundraising is not a reward for the past. It’s selling a ticket to the future. You don’t earn a round. You sell it.
Therefore, traction is but one aspect of a story that you’re pitching to support how things will go—and how you fit that in is not unlike putting the legs on a stool to get it to stand up."
20. I like this alot!
"Think of the Freedom ETF as a close relative of popular ESG funds, but instead of worrying about the environment or corporate governance, Tolle avoids investing in regimes that infringe on personal and economic freedoms."
“Freer markets have more sustainable growth. They recover faster from drawdowns and they use their capital and labor more efficiently,” Tolle says. “I always expected that they would outperform, but I didn’t expect it to play out this quickly.”
21. “That phase of the war is over,” Konaev said. “This phase is more grinding, piecemeal.” Because of the radical shift in the nature of the battlefield, the weapons on offer have to change dramatically, too."
22. Hubris is dangerous. Good discussion on whether the west is drawing the right conclusions from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
23. "Courage is the master of the virtues, because it makes the practice of all others possible. Inadvertently, we tend to think of courage as an attribute of the successful, but this is mistaken. We call Achilles brave not because we think he will win, but because we know he is going to die. It is the process, not the success, that deserves our respect.
Courage then is best understood as a willingness to put failure on the line. To cultivate courage is to accept an absence of surety. It is meaningful mostly when you are unlikely to succeed, and try anyway. Try and fail at enough things, and it will dawn on you: Every difficult thing you try acts as a multiplier on the rest of your knowledge and experience. He who lives without folly is not as wise as he thinks.
The too-clever world breeds critics, and laughs at failure. If you never try, you cannot fail, and in a clever sense it is an immense advantage to have done nothing."
24. "The new global monetary system is likely going to look like Russia, China, India, Saudi Arabia and other countries with commodity-backed, sound money on one side - and the west and our allies, with our “infinite” fiat, under the tutelage of rocket surgeon Neel Kashkari, on the other."
25. War for the West. Swarm versus the Horde.
26. "Virtue lies in giving things their proper place. To lack reason is to be inhuman. To rely on it solely is to be disembodied. This disembodied nature is the vice of the modern intellectual, in fact it separates them from past intellectuals just as it separates them from the physical world. Thinking only in the abstract, existing only in the abstract, the disembodied intellectual life becomes the destructive force of authoritarian modernism."
27. "His swift move to found a defense startup—partnering with libertarian billionaire Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and executives drawn from Thiel’s spooky spy software maker Palantir—completed Luckey’s spiritual exit from left-leaning Silicon Valley. He departed physically, too. Anduril is headquartered in Costa Mesa, closer to San Diego’s military bases than the center of the metaverse in Menlo Park.
After losing friends who criticized him as a warmonger, Luckey is suddenly feeling vindicated. In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, where Anduril has systems on the ground (he won’t say what precisely), some people are reaching out to apologize. They now realize “it is actually really important for the U.S. to have better weapons,” he says."
28. Anatomy of a trend.
29. "Professor Cippola brings texture to a common word with a cocktail: stupid decisions are actions that are bad for you and damaging to others. Just as we underestimate the number of stupid people, we underestimate the business world’s, and seemingly successful people’s, ability to make stupid decisions that damage themselves and others. Success is literally an intoxicant that makes you more risk aggressive and impairs your peripheral vision to reality and risks."
30. This is a fun episode of Not Investment Advice.
31. Solid summary of what’s happening in the economy today.
32. Hard to argue with this.
"For those of you that have been outside, a Lich is a kind of undead creature that is, to quote my good friend and D&D fanatic Phil Broughton, “an abomination that required abominable act to come into being, more to sustain itself...a corrupt form of immortality in undeath.” These creatures can be quite powerful but require immense amounts of energy to continue to exist and very much should not exist at all. Their owners always claim their existence is necessary and justify said existence in a damnable and irresponsible way.
The liches of the valley are both the founders themselves and the venture capitalists, existing in a continual rotation of unsustainable growth and absorption, sustaining companies until they can experience a liquidity event - an IPO or an acquisition. The “unholy” nature is that these companies have the appearance of an entity one can trust - as a vendor, as a customer, and as an employer, and are kept alive through unholy, undeserved capital. The longer they last in these unsustainable cycles, the more damage they are likely to cause in their inevitable contractions or death - through layoffs, dumping customers with little notice, and the overall dependence that a supposedly-respectable company grows with anyone that they interact with.
The only solution is a reconciliation with the difference between a good idea and a good business. A company that provides a service that people like in an unsustainable way is a bad company, even if you really like it and use it all the time. A new company that provides a service at an unbelievable price may be providing it at that price simply to draw in customers in the hopes that they can find a way to monetize them further in the future, but with no rigorous plan to do so."
33. "Since ICONIQ was founded in 2011, Makan has exploded the firm’s reach. ICONIQ is at once a family office for the ultra wealthy, a growth fund that competes with the likes of Tiger Global, a major real estate investor, and an impact investor. ICONIQ has invested in more than 120 companies, deploying $12.9 billion in capital.
Just as this epic bull run looked to be coming to a close — at the end of last year — ICONIQ’s assets under management totaled $83.5 billion, according to the private investor presentation.
What becomes of that massive wealth horde is an open question. Careers and fortunes are made at the tail end of a bull cycle. ICONIQ returned billions to its investors last year. But the firm deployed just as many billions. Will ICONIQs financial backers remember the money it returned or the expensive investments that it made in 2021?"
34. This is AMAZING. Personal Freedom should be everyone’s goal.
My guess is I'm at level 2 or 3 here.
"Freedom of time and income doesn’t turn you into an asshole, but it reduces your tolerance for anyone not free or who isn’t interested in becoming free.
Level 2-3 also eliminates your tolerance for justifying anything in your life.Granted, this happens at all levels, but by the time you reach level 3, you’re so confirmed and happy with your decisions that others’ opinions don’t matter at all–this is a consequence of freedom. You really don’t care what other people think.
People either agree with your life, they shut up about your choices, or you cut them.
I find that level 2 is where this starts, and level 3 is where your freedom is so established that you just don’t waste time tolerating people. Ultimately, level 3 is where the mental and social shifts have caught up to the ones in your earning power and physical situation.
This is the level where all freedoms are unified."
35. Insightful view on the future of work.
36. Why Taiwan is not Ukraine.
37. This is not good news for Crypto. What goes up, must come down.